Q: What is the Red Rock Corridor?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor is a proposed 30-mile transitway, connecting the Twin Cities’ southeastern suburbs to Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The transitway originates in Hastings with stops in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport, and St. Paul’s Battle Creek neighborhood before terminating at St. Paul’s Union Depot. Riders will be able to connect to other regional transit service at Union Depot including express bus and light rail service to downtown Minneapolis.

Q: Who is the Red Rock Corridor Commission?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor Commission is comprised of 11 members representing the counties and communities within the corridor. In addition to the 11 members, representatives from Goodhue County, the City of Red Wing, Prairie Island Indian Community, and the Canadian Pacific Railway serve as ex-officio members.

Q: Why are transportation investments needed in the corridor?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor has regional, statewide, and national significance as a primary transportation route for automobile, truck, and rail travel. Highway 61 is a principal arterial and part of the National Highway and National Scenic Byway systems. The Metropolitan Council has projected that the southeast quadrant of the Metro Area will grow by another 100,000 people over the next 20 years. Despite the growth in some of the outlying areas, 94 percent of the jobs in the study area are within Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and the primary commute pattern is to these two downtowns. This pattern is expected to continue into 2030. The Minnesota Department of Transportation projects that by 2030, the entire length of Highway 61 in the Red Rock Corridor will be congested and operating at a Level of Service (LOS) F during the morning and evening commute periods. As population and employment increase, demand for transportation increases and congestion will only get worse unless a transit solution is pursued.

Q: What work has already been completed?

A :

The Alternatives Analysis (AA) completed in 2007 identified commuter rail as the long-term transit vision for the corridor. Additional technical data and revised conditions in the corridor and region prompted an Alternatives Analysis Update (AAU) in 2013. The AAU examined multiple alternatives and indicated that bus rapid transit (BRT) is the option best aligned with the project objectives of providing the mode choice and service plan to meet needs of corridor communities. BRT economically addresses transportation problems, increases opportunities for community and economic development, and improves the quality of natural and built environment.

The Red Rock Corridor Commission also completed a Station Area Planning Study in 2011. Results of the 18-month study chronicle an extensive public participation and community outreach process in the planning of four proposed transit station areas in the Red Rock Corridor. The study also looked at many aspects of the transit station areas, including: environmental impacts, traffic and access, economic development, and cost estimates.

An Implementation Plan is currently underway to determine capital and operating costs and to update ridership estimates.

Q: Where will transit stations be located?

A :

The preferred alignment identified as part of the Implement Plan includes bus rapid transit (BRT) service generally along Highway 61. The proposed service would occasionally deviate from Highway 61 to serve existing destinations and densities, which helps support all-day, bi-directional transit service. Prior to the Red Rock Corridor Commission’s action, two bus rapid transit route alternatives were reviewed comparing travel time data, projected ridership, and capital and operating costs.  The recommended route will serve the following five cities:

  • Hastings
  • Cottage Grove
  • St. Paul Park
  • Newport
  • St. Paul (Lower Afton)

More details will be included in the Implementation Plan.

Q: What are the next steps in the process?

A :

Immediate next steps for the Red Rock Corridor will focus on expanding bus service, growing transit ridership, and promoting economic development throughout the corridor. A phased approach will be outlined in the Implementation Plan to be finalized in 2016.

Q: When is the transitway scheduled to be completed?

A :

A staged implementation plan is being completed to determine capital and operating costs and to update ridership estimates. The Implementation Plan will identify a local preferred alternative with the goal to begin phased implementation of BRT improvements in the mid-term and implement an all-day BRT service in the long term. A finalized schedule will be available soon as part of the Implementation Plan.

Q: Will the Red Rock Corridor compete with the METRO Green Line (Central Corridor)?

A :

No, analysis completed by the METRO Green Line showed that there is minimal overlap in the corridors’ markets. Riders on the METRO Green Line are more likely to travel to destinations primarily along University Avenue, including stops in both downtown areas and the University of Minnesota, while Red Rock riders are commuters primarily destined for either downtown Saint Paul or downtown Minneapolis. Riders for each corridor will take the system that most effectively meets their needs.

Q: Will the Red Rock Corridor be extended further south?

A :

No, Hastings is the furthermost terminus for bus rapid transit service along the Red Rock Corridor.

Q: Is there existing transit service in the corridor?

A :

Yes, Metro Transit currently operates express bus service on Routes 361 and 365 between Cottage Grove and the downtowns of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The Metropolitan Council also contracts for service on Route 364 from Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, and Newport to downtown Saint Paul. Park & Ride lots on Lower Afton Road in Saint Paul and in Cottage Grove are currently served by transit in the corridor. For more information on current Metro Transit route schedules, Click here

Q: How will the Red Rock Corridor connect with other regional transit improvements?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor will seamlessly connect to other transit lines and services at the stations along the corridor. At the Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul, Red Rock will connect with Metro Transit buses, taxis, intercity buses (Greyhound and Jefferson Lines), METRO Green Line (light rail), high-speed passenger rail from Chicago, Amtrak’s Empire Builder, and future connections to both the Gateway and Rush Line Corridors. At the other stations, Red Rock will provide convenient connections with local bus service.